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The conflict of interest that is Google

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mouser:
Article today slamming google for increasing tendency to bury real search results in ads:

http://www.edbott.com/weblog/2012/03/at-google-advertising-is-crowding-out-search-results/



That’s a total of 23 links on that page, as it appears on a typical computer. Only one is a search result.
--- End quote ---

IainB:
Is it justified to criticise Google for what it does or the way it does what it does?
As the marketing speak would put it, "It's all a matter of perception".

One perception here:
Looks like Du Pont was originally a gunpowder manufacturer (that was interesting - I never knew that) and then diversified into all sorts of fields, and sought to grow as a corporation, through acquisition and expansion. The objective would have been to fulfil its charter to make profits for its shareholders. Looks like it was probably a well-run psychopathic corporation - true to its business model. Then a bit of antitrust bother. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind. (Well, you can' t always get away with monopoly all of the time, but you have to try, don't you?)
Think of all the employment that resulted (and still continues) from Du Pont's operations as the corporation grew.
An enormous wealth-creating economic engine.
A great corporation.

As an experiment, re-run the above but substituting "IBM" for "Du Pont". Same model, different products/services. Antitrust bother in the early '80s (IBM was forced to sell their Commercial Bureau Services arm, which was bought up by CDC).
Another great corporation.

Then repeat that with "Google", or the name of whatever other major corporation you care to think of.
Try "Monsanto" - I think that fits it too. Monsanto might have studiously avoided the antitrust hurdle so far (has it?), but anyway it's GM technology probably takes it perilously close to the line (it's patenting food on a global scale, for goodness' sake). One day the legislators might wake up to that fact - if Monsanto's lawyers/lobbyists forget to fund them enough to stay asleep.

Define "Conflict of interest" and see if it really applies to Google. You will probably arrive at the conclusion that there is none in Google. It is probably just another well-run psychopathic corporation - true to its business model.
A great company.
But there's maybe a small difference with the "Do no evil" statement. That flies right in the face of what a well-run psychopathic corporation should be doing - treating it's adverse effects as externalities, for society to deal with. If anything, it is that statement that is a conflict of interest in this context.
No problem, the statement can always be quietly removed/forgotten by the Board, after the phantasising idiot who pronounced it has died/retired/been paid off. It's probably not a legal requirement anyway (is it?) - it's an ambiguous and morally high-sounding PR statement ("spin"), and has no real meaning and certainly no binding value. It's become a cliché. It's probably just a comforter for suckers like us. Regardless, you can rest assured that the corporation will justify whatever it wants to justify as being "Not evil".

So, stop griping about them and just accept those adds in the searches and support the economic engine and all that employment. The adverts are harmless, and a good thing, because they can generate consumption by those with the propensity to pay. And if you are lucky enough to have the propensity to pay, then it's only because of the economic engine that you are a part of.

CodeTRUCKER:
That all sounds real good and benign until you start factoring in other very serious items. 

<> Google put at risk the Chinese citizens who would exercise a free-speech right by agreeing to allow the Chinese government unhindered access to any records (read: IPs) of any and all searches. 

<> Google has digitized (photographed) hundreds of thousands (millions?) of copyrighted works and declared their "digitized data" are Big G's property via their own copyright. 


This is only two.  There are more.  Please feel free to do the "Fill-In-The-Blank" name game with the above.  Doesn't quite fit does it? 

Aside from the above Google presents itself as an inert "search" engine to the masses which accords some measure of acceptable norms of a common trust to Google.  The only way Google can take economic advantage of the "searchers" trust is to manipulate that trust without the "searchers" knowledge.  No matter how you slice it, this pretending of Google to be a "service" to the masses while clandestinely seeking/exercising a significantly different agenda constitutes the darker side of business and stretches any level of integrity to the breaking point.

Keep in mind it is only the ability of a deceiver in using the lie to keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted which allows the deceiver to deceive the deceived with the lie.  Once the truth is known by the deceived the power of the deceiver and the lie is nullified and the deceiver loses any credibility.  In other words, a lie only has power while the deceiver can keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted.  Google succeeds in continuing to keep the "searcher"  believing "Google is your friend."

How would you like your friends/business associates to treat you as Big G treats the "searchers?"  Your answer should illuminate the validity/invalidity of Google's claim to your trust.

IainB:
That all sounds real good and benign until you start factoring in other very serious items.  
...
-CodeTRUCKER (March 05, 2012, 05:28 PM)
--- End quote ---
+1 from me for pretty much all that you wrote there CodeTRUCKER.     :Thmbsup:

When I read this bit though, I have to say that it rather felt like I was playing verbal "Twister":     ;)
Keep in mind it is only the ability of a deceiver in using the lie to keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted which allows the deceiver to deceive the deceived with the lie.  Once the truth is known by the deceived the power of the deceiver and the lie is nullified and the deceiver loses any credibility.  In other words, a lie only has power while the deceiver can keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted.  Google succeeds in continuing to keep the "searcher"  believing "Google is your friend."
-CodeTRUCKER (March 05, 2012, 05:28 PM)
--- End quote ---

If you don't mind I would rephrase and augment it thus:
We all generally tend by nature to be credulous (willing to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence), and tend to believe what we are told to believe or what we want to believe (confirmation bias) - often despite any inherent irrationality in the belief or any evidence which might contradict it.

This generalisation can be substantiated by, for example, the 2008/9 statistics/estimates which apparently showed that, out of the Earth's global population of 6 billion, 1.6 billion were Islamists, and 1.4 billion were RC/Christian. That's an estimted 50% of the world's population (us) that are apparently gullible/irrational enough to believe in an unsubstantiated myth - an invisible, omnipotent and omnipresent friend.

Additionally, Vedic philosophy teaches us that, once swallowed, we can tend to cling onto a belief because of Ahamkara. It becomes conjoined with our ego, and we have to defend it. Sometimes we will defend or enforce the belief with our lives, and even with lives of others. (QED.)

--- End quote ---

The evidence would seem to be that various unscrupulous people, religious leaders, governments and commercial organisations have taken advantage of human gullibility in order to deceive, trick, manipulate and control them for at least 2,000 years - and they continue to do so to the present day.

Therefore, if Google has indeed been guilty of deceiving us and breaching our trust - because, dammit, we believed in Google - then the scale of that deception is relatively insignificant when compared to the scale of that deceived 50% and in the historical context.
And it serves the purpose of oiling the wheels and feeding the demand for the economic machine.
And that is apparently a sufficiently "worthy cause" in a Capitalist economy for such deception to be allowed (if it wasn't, then Google and similar would probably already have been stopped dead in their tracks). Any deception could arguably be "for the greater good".

That's why I wrote:
Is it justified to criticise Google for what it does or the way it does what it does?
As the marketing speak would put it, "It's all a matter of perception".

--- End quote ---

In addition to its indisputably generally positive contribution to the Internet and the economy, Google is also relatively harmless, and, if you don't like it, then there is (so far) nothing stopping you from getting out of its clutches by closing your Google account and boycotting its services - unlike the EU or Islamism, where you are not allowed to leave once you have become a member (in fact the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death).

Regardless, Google is probably still perceived as a "friend" by the uncritical and credulous majority.
So we should stop griping and thank our lucky stars. You've never had it so good.    ;)

J-Mac:
Two somewhat non-relevant points:

First...
Keep in mind it is only the ability of a deceiver in using the lie to keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted which allows the deceiver to deceive the deceived with the lie.  Once the truth is known by the deceived the power of the deceiver and the lie is nullified and the deceiver loses any credibility.  In other words, a lie only has power while the deceiver can keep the deceived believing the deceiver is to be trusted.  Google succeeds in continuing to keep the "searcher"  believing "Google is your friend."
--- End quote ---

Huh? I tried reading through that series of sentences a second time but then decided I'd rather play on Braingle and work on their brain-teasers there; those are more fun!

Second, I looked at your "Google Knol" article Iain and I did try to read it, honest! But I kept drifting off every time I got past Lord Krishna chatting with Arjun... especially when I got to the part where we are losing our Ahamkara - I think?! I suppose I might just be losing my attention span rapidly as I grow older - apparently at or near the speed of light.

Basically, I think I am just too darned tired to understand any of what the heck you guys are talking about.   :huh:   :-\

Oh, and BTW - looks like Google is ending the whole "Knol" thing, unfortunately. You probably know that but I just found out.   :(

Thanks!

Jim

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